Breast lumps are a common condition that affects women, but a quick online search will show a multitude of different conditions for which people search. When someone searches for a “lump in the breast,” one of the most common diagnoses that pop up is fibroadenoma. Here is what it is and how to treat it.
What Is A Fibroadenoma?
A fibroadenoma is a noncancerous (benign) tumor that consists of glandular and connective tissue. Fibroadenomas typically develop in women ages 15 to 25, but they can also occur in older females and males. Although these lumps are extremely common, they cannot affect the risk of breast cancer because they themselves are not cancerous.
Most individuals with fibroadenoma experience no symptoms at all; however, some may feel a hard lump or thickening within their breast tissue and the breast may become tender and swollen before the onset of menstrual periods.
Diagnosis can be tricky because some fibroadenomas are hard to feel, while others don’t cause any notable symptoms. Additionally, some people mistake these lumps for cysts or milk duct blockages. To ensure that a person has a fibroadenoma and not another breast condition, they should see their doctor about having it removed for inspection. A doctor will be able to diagnose fibroadenoma by examining the lump. If further testing is necessary, a diagnostic mammogram or ultrasound may provide more information about the condition of the breast tissue.
Although a fibroadenoma is benign, it can grow in size or become inflamed. Inflamed fibroadenomas are referred to as a “breast abscess,” which is quite painful and can lead to fever, chills, and fatigue. Here is how to treat it.
In the most serious of cases, a doctor may recommend surgery to remove the fibroadenoma from the breast. If this is recommended, they will likely wait until menstruation has ceased or anesthetized the lump with ice to minimize discomfort during removal. There are two types of surgical options: open and closed biopsy. In either case, a surgeon will remove all of the lumps and surrounding tissue in order to send it out for biopsy analysis. A pathologist will perform a microscopic examination on the sample to determine if there are any cancerous cells in it that would require further work, but chances are they won’t have to worry about it when dealing with a benign tumor such as fibroadenoma. For people with severe pain or inflammation, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics to clear the area before surgery.
Patients who undergo surgery report minimal scarring and discomfort, but it can take several months for a full recovery. Most people are back to work within one week following the procedure; however, strenuous activities should be avoided for at least two weeks afterwards.
For people who have a fibroadenoma that is causing no pain or discomfort, a doctor may recommend cryoablation. This treatment option destroys the cells in the tumor with extreme cold and has little to no downtime. A small incision will be made in order to insert a tiny probe into the lump; then, it will be frozen until all of the cells within it are dead. The dead tissue will fall out after several weeks and leave behind an empty cavity for new cells to grow where it once was.
This procedure has no scarring and requires only minimal recovery time; however, patients should refrain from exercise or strenuous activities for two weeks afterwards due to swelling and soreness around the area.
If a person’s fibroadenoma is growing or causing discomfort, then radiation therapy may be necessary to reduce its size and keep it from coming back. This option delivers targeted beams of high-frequency X-rays to kill cancerous cells while sparing healthy tissue. The number of radiation therapies a patient needs will depend on how big their tumor has gotten or what stage their cancer is in; however, an individual session lasts anywhere from three to fifteen minutes and doesn’t require any sort of anesthesia.
Many people report that this method minimizes scarring and discomfort more than surgery does. More importantly, this procedure has been shown to be effective in shrinking fibroadenomas. This option will likely shrink or remove the tumor altogether if it is caught early enough.
Although this method does not require downtime, patients should refrain from strenuous activities for at least two weeks after each session.
A fibroadenoma is a noncancerous tumor that forms on the breast. It usually grows to around 3 centimeters in diameter and feels firm, smooth, and rubbery to touch. Most of these tumors are found during puberty, as they tend to appear more frequently in younger women; however, some people don’t find out about them until later on in life. They aren’t known for causing pain or discomfort unless they become inflamed, but if this occurs it should be treated immediately because an abscess can build up quickly and turn serious. Fibroadenomas usually shrink on their own once menstruation has stopped or after menopause starts, so doctors usually recommend waiting it out rather than having surgery to remove them from the patient’s body. If a patient has an inflamed or painful fibroadenoma, surgery is necessary to remove it.